Key Differences Between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Difference Between Digital Marketing And Social Media Marketing: Comparing Strategies [2024]

Digital marketing encompasses a broader spectrum, leveraging online channels like search engines, websites, and emails. Conversely, Social Media Marketing focuses specifically on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage and build communities. In this blog, we compare digital marketing and social media marketing and provide actionable insights for success.

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In today’s digital-first world, businesses recognise the importance of having an online presence and connecting with customers through various digital channels. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult for brands to determine the most effective marketing strategies. 

Two commonly used approaches are digital marketing and social media marketing. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a key difference between digital marketing and social media marketing that businesses must understand to develop targeted campaigns.

In this blog, we will compare digital marketing and social media marketing, analyse the latest trends, and share actionable strategies you can implement to help your business grow in 2024. We will also showcase inspirational case studies of leading Indian brands excelling across digital and social media platforms. 

Let’s get started!

What Is Digital Marketing & Social Media Marketing

Understanding Digital Marketing

Digital marketing refers to any online marketing effort to promote a business across paid and unpaid channels. This includes social media, SEO, content marketing, pay-per-click, affiliate marketing, email, and mobile marketing. 

The scope extends across your owned media (website, blog, app), earned media (mentions, shares), and paid media (ads).

Essentially, any marketing done through websites, blogs, apps, emails, and social media accounts falls under the umbrella of digital marketing.

The core objectives involve:

  • Driving website traffic
  • Generating leads 
  • Boosting brand awareness 
  • Increasing sales revenue
  • Profit margins

This is achieved by publishing valuable branded content, running targeted ad campaigns, nurturing emails, leveraging influencer partnerships, and more.

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) across metrics like impressions, clicks, conversions, sales, and return on investment (ROI) indicates what strategies are working. You can then optimise budget allocation across channels accordingly.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):

Optimising website content, page speed, technical elements, link building, and local listings to earn higher rankings on Google and other search engines. This increases visibility and website visitors organically over time.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Running Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other paid ads to reach new audiences as they search for relevant keywords and interests related to your business online. The way it works is you only pay when users click on your ad.

Content Marketing

Create blog posts, videos, visual guides, and other valuable branded content tailored to your audience’s interests and pain points. Distributing this through emails and social media builds awareness and loyalty over time.

Email Marketing

Build an email list to send regular promotions, content updates, newsletters, and other subscriber-only values. Personalised triggers and lifecycle campaigns nurture relationships for a higher conversion rate.

Social Media Marketing

Leveraging leading platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest to foster engagement and community. Tailored content and messaging per platform to drive followers, growth and sales.

A sound digital marketing strategy in 2024 will likely comprise all of these elements, with campaigns tailored to business goals like lead generation, sales, and customer retention. 

Tracking KPIs across metrics like impressions, clicks, conversions, sales revenue, and ROI will indicate what’s working. Optimising based on performance data is key to maximising your budget across channels.

Understanding Social Media Marketing

While social media marketing strategies utilise branded profiles across major platforms, the practice sits under the larger umbrella of digital marketing efforts.

As we’ll explore further, social media marketing focuses more narrowly on engaging audiences and converting followers, specifically on popular social platforms. There is less emphasis on non-social digital tactics like email, SEO, and PPC ads.

Now, let’s examine the unique opportunities major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn present.


With over 360 million users in India alone, Facebook remains a dominant platform—especially for B2C e-commerce brands targeting mass reach. Its unrivalled advertising capabilities also make Facebook ads a top paid acquisition channel.


As the #2 search engine behind Google, YouTube presents incredible organic reach potential through search and suggested videos. It’s also the top platform for branded video content. Leveraging both paid ads and organic content strategies here is key.


Instagram has exploded with reels, short-form vertical videos and the massively popular Stories feature. Branded content and shoppable posts make Instagram the platform of choice for lifestyle brands and influencer marketing.


With over 100 million users in India, LinkedIn dominates the B2B space. The platform enables targeted advertising by job title, industry, skills and interests. So brands selling enterprise SaaS, financial services and other B2B offerings find rich pockets of prospects here.


While smaller in terms of active users, Twitter carries weight in terms of thought leadership. The short format lends itself well to real-time trending topics—making the platform influential across news, politics and pop culture.

The interactive nature of social media allows brands to not only broadcast messages but also facilitate conversations with prospects and customers. Each platform boasts unique user demographics and behaviour patterns to factor into your segmentation and positioning strategies.

A strategic social media marketing plan will leverage platform strengths to launch targeted campaigns that raise awareness, increase followers and engagement, generate leads, boost sales, and build loyalty through community-building. Tracking platform-specific metrics helps gauge performance and ROI.

Digital Marketing Vs Social Marketing: Comparing Strategies

Aspect Digital Marketing Social Media Marketing
ObjectiveIncrease brand awareness, drive traffic, generate leads/salesBuild brand presence, engage audience, foster community
PlatformUtilises various online channels and platforms like websites, search engines, email, etc.Focuses primarily on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
StrategiesSEO, SEM, content marketing, email marketing, PPC advertisingContent creation, influencer partnerships, community management
Audience EngagementDiverse audience across multiple platformsHighly engaged audience within specific social media networks
Audience TargetingUses data-driven methods for precise audience targeting based on demographics, behaviour, etc.Relies on social media demographics and user behavior for targeting.
Content FormatDiverse content formats including text, images, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc.Predominantly visual content like images, videos, stories, live streams, etc.
Latest TrendsVoice search optimisation, AI-driven marketing, personalisationVideo content dominance, ephemeral content, social commerce
InteractionInteraction occurs on owned platforms (websites, blogs, etc.) and often involves one-way communication.Emphasises two-way communication and engagement between brand and audience.
Consumer BehaviourShift towards online shopping, demand for personalised experiencesPreference for authentic content, trust in peer recommendations
MetricsMetrics include website traffic, conversion rates, click-through rates, ROI, etc.Metrics include likes, shares, comments, follower growth, engagement rates, etc.
Platform AlgorithmsEmphasis on relevance, quality, and user experiencePrioritise content based on engagement, relevancy, and recency
Paid AdvertisingUtilises paid advertising across various platforms like Google Ads, display networks, etc.Offers paid advertising options within social media platforms like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc.
Community BuildingFocuses on building brand authority and community through content creation and SEO strategies.Emphasises building an active community through engaging content, discussions, and user-generated content.
Customer FeedbackCustomer feedback is often collected through surveys, reviews, and analytics tools.Provides real-time customer feedback through comments, messages, and social listening tools.
Virality PotentialContent can go viral through SEO optimisation, paid campaigns, and content distribution networks.Content has high potential for virality due to sharing capabilities and network effects within social platforms.

1. Social Commerce/Shoppable Posts

  • Making purchases directly from social media posts without leaving the platform. 
  • Social platforms are racing to integrate “buy now” capabilities natively into blogs, videos, and posts through digital wallets and simplified checkout. Expect direct integrations between content and commerce to persist across digital channels in 2024.

2. Interactive/Conversational Ads

  • Ads that mimic conversations to engage the audience will grow in popularity. Chatbots and live chat will also be used more for marketing.

3. AR/VR Usage Increases

Brands will create a more immersive AR and VR experience for audiences. This can be used for social proof, virtual tours, product visualisations, etc.

4. Sustainability-Focused Marketing

Customers will expect brands to communicate their sustainability efforts and impact clearly. Greenwashing will lose effectiveness.

5. More location-based personalisation

Precise, permission-based location data will be leveraged to understand customers in a neighbourhood and deliver hyper-relevant messages.

6. Privacy first

With data protection laws tightening worldwide, transparency around usage and gaining active consent are crucial to building trust.

1. Rise of the long-watch video

Videos will continue to be very important on social media. However, the trend will shift more towards long-form, episodic-style videos rather than just short clips. Brands will create video series, tutorials, documentaries, etc., in the range of 10-30 mins. Storytelling will be the focus.

2. Fun content = More fan engagement

Gone are the days when brands had to maintain a very formal/professional persona. In 2024, brands that showcase their fun, casual and human side through playful content will resonate better. Think humour, pop culture references, behind-the-scenes content, etc.

3. Social Shops Take Center Stage

Social commerce grew exponentially from 2022 to 23. At present, in 2024, more platforms are adding dedicated shopping features. Brands will go deeper into selling directly via social posts, stories, and live videos using shoppable tags, checkout options, etc.

4. SEO for All Screens

While SEO for the website is important, optimising content according to the keywords, hashtags, and profiles properly will help surface content higher in search as well as within the platforms. Internal/external linking plays a role.

5. Behind the Scenes = Beyond the Surface

Customers want to feel more connected to brands as people, not just products. Sharing office/factory tours, team members, and sustainability efforts will build trust. Transparency on challenges will also be appreciated.

6. One Message, Every Network

One type of engaging, authentic content strategy will work across multiple social networks. Consistency while retaining each platform’s uniqueness is key. User behaviour on each platform also informs the type of content.

7. Fluid Teams for Flexible Times

Specialised social media roles will emerge – video editors, social listening experts, commerce managers, etc. New titles will also come up, like ‘Director of Customer Experience’ as customer service expands to social platforms.

8. Creators Drive Sales

Micro-influencers and independent creators will play a bigger role. Collaborations will be about shared values, not just reach. Transparency and authentic partnerships will be important in this trend.

9. Social Support Supercharges Satisfaction

Customers now expect brands to respond to queries and complaints on social media as promptly as by phone or email. Social care teams will use advanced tools to monitor and respond in a personalised manner.

10. AI Assists, Humans Direct

AI tools will be used across both marketing and customer care functions, from content creation to social listening to customer service chatbots. However, human oversight will be critical for ethics and quality.

11. Network Data Navitates Progress

Insights from social platforms will be analysed across other departments as well – R&D, sales, customer support, etc. Data-driven decisions will require collaboration.

Click here to learn more about Social Media Marketing strategies

Which Is Better: Digital Or Social Media Marketing?

While social media marketing lives under the digital marketing umbrella, an integrated strategy leveraging both will be most effective.

The distinction lies more in objectives and metrics than an either/or choice

  • Digital marketing casts a wider net that encompasses your owned website properties, advertising across the web, email subscribers, SEO rankings, lead generation metrics, sales revenue and transactions.
  • Social media metrics examine followers’ growth, engagement rates, shares, conversions, click-through rates, etc., specifically on those branded platforms.
  • Based on your business model, you may allocate budget and resources across digital and social based on goals. Regardless, aligning messaging and campaigns for cohesion under one brand vision connects with customers across touchpoints.

Case Studies For Reference

KFC’s Social Media Marketing Success in India


KFC, a global food company, has established itself as a prominent player in the Indian food market. With a focus on reaching out to the youth demographic, KFC aimed to enhance its online visibility and engagement through innovative social media campaigns. 

Recognising the potential of social media platforms, KFC embarked on a series of creative campaigns to strengthen its brand presence in India.


The primary objective of KFC’s social media marketing campaigns was to increase brand awareness and engagement and ultimately drive sales among the Indian youth demographic. By leveraging the power of social media platforms, KFC aimed to create unique experiences for its audience while reinforcing its brand identity.


KFC devised a multifaceted strategy to achieve its objectives:

  • .Youth Targeting: Recognising the significance of the youth demographic in India, KFC tailored its campaigns to resonate with this audience segment.
  • Innovative Campaign Concepts: KFC introduced innovative campaign concepts such as Radio KFC RJ Hunt, Currycature, and Design Your Own Bucket to captivate the audience’s attention and encourage participation.
  • Social Media Integration: Leveraging popular social media platforms like Facebook, KFC integrated its campaigns seamlessly into the digital landscape, allowing for maximum reach and engagement.
  • User-Generated Content: Encouraging user-generated content through campaigns like Currycature and Design Your Own Bucket enabled KFC to foster a sense of community and brand loyalty among its audience.


KFC executed its campaigns with precision and creativity:

  • Radio KFC RJ Hunt: KFC launched a campaign inviting participants to showcase their talent through its in-house radio channel. Contestants used the Facebook App to record their voices, generating buzz and engagement.
  • Currycature: Participants were encouraged to create Indian-themed caricatures and share them online, further amplifying KFC’s brand presence on social media.
  • Design Your Own Bucket: Users were invited to design their own KFC buckets, leading to a surge in registrations and user-generated content.


The outcomes of KFC’s social media campaigns were highly favourable:

  • Recognition: KFC was named one of India’s top five fastest-growing social media businesses and one of the top five socially engaged brands by Social Baker.
  • Increased Engagement: Positive interaction on KFC’s Facebook page skyrocketed from 6.2% to an impressive 93.8%, surpassing the sector average by threefold.
  • Industry Acclaim: The campaigns received widespread acclaim and were recognised as one of the best e-commerce digital marketing case studies in India by various digital marketers.


KFC’s strategic approach to social media marketing in India exemplifies the power of creativity, innovation, and audience targeting. KFC successfully enhanced its brand visibility, engagement, and overall market presence by leveraging social media platforms and introducing engaging campaigns. 

The success of these campaigns underscores the significance of a well-executed social media strategy in driving business growth and fostering brand loyalty.

Urban Tree- Chennai’s ‘Pucca Local Brand’


Urban Tree is a prominent real estate developer in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. While the real estate industry relies heavily on digital platforms, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for an online presence. Urban Tree recognised the need to strengthen its digital marketing to cut through the noise and connect with local home buyers in Chennai.


The key objectives for Urban Tree’s digital marketing strategy were:

  • Rebrand as a “Pucca Local Brand” to appeal to local Chennai audiences
  • Boost online presence and drive traffic to the website
  • Generate high-quality leads from local homebuyers
  • Stay top of mind through social media and search engine visibility


echoVME Digital worked with Urban Tree to revamp its website and focus content on local audiences. Key strategies included:

  • Developing customer stories and journeys tailored for Chennai homebuyers
  • Publishing blog content in Tamil to attract local searches
  • Organizing an influencer meetup with popular Chennai bloggers
  • Optimizing SEO with local keyword targeting
  • Running social media and Google ads campaigns focused on Chennai


The refreshed website focused on the local customer experience. A Tamil blog was created, and local influencers were engaged. SEO was optimised for keywords like “homes in Chennai”. Paid social media ads promoted new projects.


As a result of the 12-month digital campaign:

  • Website visits grew to over 20,000 per month
  • The blog drove over 600,000 impressions
  • Google ads achieved a top10 average position
  • Over 150 qualified leads were generated


By focusing its digital presence on the local Chennai market, Urban Tree was able to strengthen its brand as a “Pucca Local” developer and drive meaningful leads despite industry headwinds – a success for its digital transformation.


In today’s digital-first world, having a strong online presence across multiple channels is crucial for any business. While digital marketing and social media marketing are often used interchangeably, they each require dedicated strategies to succeed.

The best approach is to view these efforts holistically and integrate them for maximum exposure and results. By understanding the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing, businesses can develop comprehensive plans to reach customers seamlessly throughout their journey. 

Continuous testing, learning from insights and adapting to emerging trends will also be key to staying ahead of the curve.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1). What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing refers to marketing done through digital channels like websites, search engines, social media, email, etc. It uses internet-connected devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets to promote brands and reach customers.

2). What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that specifically uses social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc, to promote brands, products or services. It allows businesses to engage with existing and potential customers online.

3). What are the main differences between digital marketing and social media marketing?

While digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses various online marketing channels, social media marketing focuses only on social networks. Digital marketing has a wider scope and includes SEO, paid search, email marketing, content marketing, etc., in addition to social media marketing.

4). Which one has a wider reach, digital marketing or social media marketing?

Digital marketing has a wider reach since it leverages multiple digital channels, whereas social media marketing is limited to social platforms. However, social media can help amplify the reach of digital marketing campaigns when used together effectively.

5). Is social media marketing a part of digital marketing?

Yes, social media marketing is a subset of digital marketing. It utilises social networks as one of the digital channels to promote brands and products online. While digital marketing is an overall strategy, social media marketing refers to promotional activities carried out specifically on social platforms.

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Digital Scholar is a premier agency-styled digital marketing institute in India. Which offers an online digital marketing course and a free digital marketing course worldwide to elevate their digital skills and become industry experts. Digital Scholar is headed by Sorav Jain and co-founder Rishi Jain, who are pioneers in the field of digital marketing. Digital Scholar’s blogs touch upon numerous aspects of digital marketing and help you get intensive ideas of different domains of digital marketing.

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